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Advani, ready for a forced exit?

CNN-IBN
Sep 01, 2009 at 03:23am IST

New Delhi: From being the man responsible for the rise of the BJP in the 1990s to being blamed for its fall in 2009, LK Advani's fortunes have suffered a sharp fall.

And the past three months have been particularly harsh for the BJP's iron man.

On May 16, when the BJP crashed to a crushing defeat in the Lok Sabha elections, it was clear to most that the mandate of the people had meant a rejection of BJP's 81-year-old prime ministerial aspirant.

While age was never on Advani's side, the election result demonstrated that even the people weren't on his side. But Advani it seems failed to read the writing on the wall and clung on to his Leader of the Opposition status. His refusal to own up for the party's defeat angered his detractors who accused the party of putting a premium on failure.

Then came the Jinnah controversy and the unceremonial sacking of Jaswant Singh for calling Jinnah a great man in his book. It was expected that Advani who had also praised Jinnah in 2005 would come to Jaswant's rescue but that did not happen. In order to save his own position within the party, the BJP's mazboot neta turned his back on his colleague for 30 years.

“I had stood up for Advani during his Jinaah episode,” Jaswant told CNN-IBN.

Advani's credibility was further dented when his present and former colleagues openly declared that he had misled the public on the Kandahar hijacking episode. Advani, they alleged was very much part of the then cabinet decision to release the terrorists and send Jaswant Singh to Kandahar.

“It made sense to release these three (terrorists) and get the hostages back. And Advani was a part of this decision,” former national security advisor Brajesh Mishra said.

Still struggling to wash off the Babri taint, the Kandahar revelations have come as a huge blow for Advani. But the biggest blow to his ambitions has perhaps come from the RSS, whose chief Mohan Bhagwat wants the BJP to go in for a generational change to set its house in order.

The RSS's intervention has meant that time is clearly running out for Advani. He started the year on a high as BJP's prime ministerial candidate, now he's all set to end it with a low by making a forced exit.

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